Should I appoint a Conveyancing Solicitor before I find a buyer?

Surely the answer is obvious and the procedure simple?  You shake hands with your prospective purchaser, compare Conveyancing Solicitors and choose one with Cheap Conveyancing Fees.   Then you just sit back and wait for life to happen?

Adopt this approach and you will certainly be in the majority.

Yet if you speak to property professionals, that is to say people who develop and buy and sell property, this is exactly what they do not do.   So what is it they know that the average home seller does not?

In fact the savvy property professional will most likely have an ongoing relationship with a preferred Conveyancing Solicitor and the relationship is not merely cemented by securing the Cheapest Conveyancing Fees. (This is not to say that Conveyancing Fees are not important to property professionals, nor is it to say that they would not select the cheapest conveyancing fees on a point of principal. )

But there is something else.

Property professionals usually kiss a few frogs before settling into a relationship with a preferred Conveyancing Solicitor.   In choosing the right lawyer they will certainly demand that they are readily contactable.   However they will probably be more concerned with how proactive they are.

Proactivity in Conveyancing Solicitors is talked about a lot in the marketing literature of Conveyancing practices and is often cited as a selling point.   Prospective sellers having found a buyer are often seduced by this yet they tend to do little to help the lawyer in being proactive.

Now that HIP's R. I. P, the Conveyancing Process has regressed to a point where nothing happens until an offer is accepted.   Whatever your position on HIP’s (and the populist abolition of them), towards the end most conveyancers agreed that they served to speed up the transaction and reduce the percentage sales falling through.   The reason for this was that they necessitated the sourcing of certain documentation required in the Conveyancing Process at a much earlier stage.

Now, once again, nothing happens until a buyer is found leaving sellers unprepared and buyers uninformed. And yet it doesn’t have to be like this

Most property professionals instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor before they find a buyer.

In fact they tend to instruct shortly after putting the property on the market.   As a result weeks of bumbling around and applying for and locating documentation can be shaved off the Conveyancing Process.   (The second question most home sellers ask after “how much does Conveyancing Cost?” is “How long does the Conveyancing process take?”. )

An example of how home sellers might benefit from this approach is when the property has a leasehold tenure.   Whether the seller deals with a landlord (freeholder) directly, a managing agent or they have a share in the freehold, it can take weeks (sometimes months) to source the information required by the purchaser’s Conveyancing Solicitor.  

During this void guess what happens – absolutely nothing!  While you sit there assuming that your Conveyancer is hustling around in the background trying to make your sale happen, in reality you are nothing more than a file sitting in a drawer.   Had this management information been applied for beforehand as a result of instructing the Conveyancer earlier,   this crucial information could be supplied to the purchaser’s solicitor immediately.

The longer the Conveyancing Solicitor takes the higher the probability of a buyer pulling out.  

Think about it.   The more time that is wasted, the more time there is for the buyer to take a fancy to another property, the more time for the property market to collapse, the more time for the buyer’s circumstances to change and the more time for any or all of these to happen somewhere else in the chain.

So what can you do to increase the chances of a successful sale?

Simple.    Do what the property professionals do and choose a Conveyancing Solicitor who will accept your instruction when you put your home on the market.   Of course should they happen to be offering the Cheapest Conveyancing Fees then so much the better.